Album review: ‘Hitler Wears Hermes 8’

Hip-hop+musician+holding+a+microphone.

Getty Images

Hip-hop musician holding a microphone.

Gabriel Fiorini, News Reporter

Rapper Westside Gunn released the second half of his new mixtape “Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely Adolf” on Sept. 24. His eighth submission manages to impress those familiar with the Buffalo native and casual fans alike.

The mixtape’s full release marks Gunn’s final entry in his “Hitler Wears Hermes” series, which began in 2012. Gunn addressed the title in a short documentary that accompanied the first installment. 

“That’s basically my whole style, you know. Just the grimiest, flyest sh** I could think of. You know everybody was already used that devil wears Prada. You know, I wanted to flip that,” Gunn said in the documentary.

Gunn’s double album brought features from a number of notable rap industry figures. The Album’s Side A, which came out on Aug. 20, and Side B brought features from Lil Wayne, Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Boldly James, Tyler, The Creator, Jay Electronica, 2 Chainz, Mach Hommy and more.

Listeners unfamiliar with the Griselda Records founder might find Gunn’s voice and delivery jarring. Yet, his unique voice, subject matter and use of ad libs have garnered him a sizable fanbase composed of avid listeners.  

What Gunn lacks in lyrical depth and melody he makes up for in his abilities as a businessman. The entrepreneur and manager flourishes in album curation and talent acquisition.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Gunn said, “What if, just what if I put these projects (out) to just make the best ART in the world and put ppl in position to shine before me, I’ve worked with every legendary producer, but it was all apart of the plan, I could actually be the best lyricist of all time, but u would never know bc that’s not the purpose, but trust me I do this by design, so when I say I’m the (GOAT) I really am.” 

On “Richies,” Gunn raps about Jimmy Choos, foreign cars and his shoe choice when stretching drugs. He sings on the bridge, “Mix the soda with the elbow, Leather 3 with the velcro.”

What sets this track apart is its instrumental, courtesy of prolific rap producer, Madlib. For the track’s instrumental, Madlib sampled the song “Trust in Me Baby” by Soul Superiors. Although most rap fans will recognize the sample from Earl Sweatshirt’s “Ontheway!,” a track from 2018’s “Some Rap Songs.” “Richies” ends with an audio snippet of a 1959 interview of Coco Chanel, French fashion designer and the namesake of the Chanel brand. She says, “While for me copying means success. There is no success without copying, and without imitation, it does not exist.”

The highlight of “Hitler Wears Hermes 8” Side B, as is the case with all Griselda projects, is the posse cut, “Hell on Earth Pt. 2,” featuring Conway, Benny and Gunn. The track’s name is a nod to the Mobb Deep track “Hell On Earth (Front Lines)” off their 1996 album of the same name.

The song’s producer, Sovren raises the tempo and provides the three with a skeletal beat to house their verses, but it’s the introduction to Benny’s verse that makes the song a must listen. Sovren samples the song “Soon And Very Soon” by Andrae Crouch and seamlessly transitions the end of Gunn’s verse and the beginning of Benny’s.

As Gunn closes the book on his “Hitler Wears Hermes” series, he solidifies himself as a monumental figure in the modern hip-hop underground and as a pioneer in the boom-bap renaissance.

As Rashid said on “End how You start intro,” “You just gotta make the end reflect the beginning. We only know the nature of a thing when it gracefully bows out and allows its lessons to instruct the learned.”